By: Tori Eberle
Belle & Sebastian, an indie pop group from Glasgow, have been making music since most of us were toddlers or little tykes. However, their wistful pop sound keeps them in the running with other popular Indie groups that we listened to back in high school like The Shins and The Decemberists. Often compared to Bob Dylan, or to classic groups like The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian have received moderate commercial recognition and critical acclaim throughout the years.
“Write About Love” is the band’s eighth studio album from this seven piece band, and they haven’t left their pop roots behind them in the least. Melancholy and sweet, the album’s title is a great clue as to what its subject matter centers around. However, the album could be considered a random set of songs strung together, united only by the subject of love gone sour like old milk. This is especially prevalent with the album’s first track and single, “I Didn’t See It Coming.” The track starts off upbeat with a plucky guitar and piano accompanied by a rhythmic tambourine sound. However, along with cheesy lyrics sung in a duet by lead vocalist Stuart Murdoch and the band’s violinist Sarah Martin there is also an underlying sense of moroseness. The song is about a couple in love that wants to run away together, but they can’t because they don’t have any money. The song is slightly confusing in the fact that the couple insists they don’t need money because they have love, yet they can’t run away together because all they have is their love for each other.
The fourth track of the album, “I Want The World To Stop,” reminds one of The Shin’s “Phantom Limb” without any of the musical bliss or grandeur. The lyrics whine of the speaker’s wish to stop time and to be with the one he loves, despite the passage of time. References at the end of the song to Tinseltown, Balzac and Bach only increase the risk of confusion. Artsy lyrics executed poorly make for an awkward song indeed.
Another confusing track on the album is “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John.” The track features Norah Jones, a singer/songwriter who should really consider going back to singing about how her heart is drenched in wine. With a voice like Stuart Murdoch’s, an accompanying singer is really quite superfluous and just plain out of place. The song starts off with lyrics about a wasted love, then somehow transitions into religious references about the prophet John.
The title track of the album at first sounds like it was created by a big band from 1960s Memphis or the cast of Hair. The beat and choral combination of voices are hauntingly reminiscent of the song “Age of Aquarius.” References to desk jobs, though highly relatable to a modern American, are hard to believe when you know that Stuart Murdoch has probably done nothing but be in a band since college.
A band that has been around since before some of us even knew what indie pop was, has shown that the same band that attracted us to certain genres and bands can also almost as successfully make us want to listen to Chamillionaire instead.